Of the three newly-promoted sides, it’s not surprising that West Ham United have adapted best to their early challenges given the vast top-flight experience they possess in the shape of manager Sam Allardyce and a number of players throughout their squad.
Currently occupying eighth spot having picked up 11 points from their opening seven games, the Hammers look to have every chance of surviving in the Premier League this season and they will fancy their chances as they welcome struggling Southampton to Upton Park this weekend.
Back after a seven-year exile in the Football League, the Saints have found life difficult in their first few weeks having picked up just four points from a possible 21, which sees them sit one place above the bottom three.
Perhaps most worrying for Nigel Adkins is the alarming rate at which his side are conceding goals, with the defence having been breached 20 times in just seven league matches, more than any other side, and the former Scunthorpe boss will be aware that it is an issue that desperately needs addressing.
Having spent big in the summer on the likes of attackers Jay Rodriguez and Gaston Ramirez – the latter is currently sidelined through injury – Adkins may have been better served adding experience to his defensive ranks.
The Saints have surrendered a one-goal lead in four of their games so far this term, including in their last outing before the international break, when they required an injury-time equaliser to salvage a point at home to Fulham in a 2-2 draw.
The Hammers head into this game as odds-on favourites to pick up their third win in four home games at 83/100, with a repeat of last season’s share of the spoils at Upton Park priced at 5/2, while a first success on the road for Southampton can be backed at 16/5.
Unlike their opponents, West Ham have looked a far more solid unit, conceding just eight goals and recording three clean sheets, with the addition of Jussi Jaaskelainen and James Collins to the squad in the summer looking shrewd business by Allardyce.
Of the eight goals the London club have notched this season, seven have come in the first half, and backing them to score first at 3/5 – as has been the case in four of their fixtures – could prove fruitful, as could evens on that goal to arrive prior to the interval, particularly with Andy Carroll back to full fitness.
While they may be suspect at the back, Southampton have found the net in every game so far this term and they’ve certainly brought entertainment to the Premier League, with six of their last seven league fixtures involving at least four or more goals.
West Ham’s last two league outings have ended 2-1 and 3-1, so backing a high-scoring game is worth considering, with over 2.5 goals priced at 67/100, while over 3.5 could provide a decent profit at 8/5.
With a fixture list that includes Manchester City, Newcastle, Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool over the next few weeks, Allardyce won’t need to stress the importance of a win to his players ahead of their daunting run-in.
The Hammers are available at 33/20 to win a game featuring over 2.5 goals and this looks to be the best option of all, with anyone backing it with their free £20 bet after registering with bwin set to win £53 if successful.
Until the Saints cut out their mistakes at the back – which have cost them on a number of occasions already and seen them concede three own goals – they’re always going to be facing an uphill struggle in games and another defeat beckons in East London on Saturday.